MILLER: Gun ownership up, crime down

FBI violent-crime rates show safer nation with more gun owners

Gun-control advocates are noticeably silent when crime rates decline. Their multimillion-dollar lobbying efforts are designed to manufacture mass anxiety that every gun owner is a potential killer. The statistics show otherwise.

Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced that violent crime decreased 4 percent in 2011. The number of murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults all went down, continuing a pattern.

“This is not a one-year anomaly, but a steady decline in the FBI’s violent-crime rates,” said Andrew Arulanandam, spokesman for the National Rifle Association. “It would be disingenuous for anyone to not credit increased self-defense laws to account for this decline.”

Mr. Arulanandam pointed out that only a handful of states had concealed-carry programs 25 years ago, when the violent-crime rate peaked. Today, 41 states either allow carrying without a permit or have “shall issue” laws that make it easy for just about any noncriminal to get a permit. Illinois and Washington, D.C., are the only places that refuse to recognize the right to bear arms. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence did not respond to requests for comment.

If the gun grabbers were right, we’d be in the middle of a crime wave, considering how many guns are on the streets. “Firearms sales have increased substantially since right after the 2008 election,” said Bill Brassard, spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which represents the $4 billion firearms and ammunition industry. “There was a leveling off in 2010, but now we’re seeing a surge again.”

The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) serves as one of the best indicators of gun sales because it counts each time someone buys a gun. Checks hit an all-time high of 16.5 million last year. In the first five months of this year, the numbers have gone up 10 percent over the same period last year as Americans rush to the gun store in case President Obama decides to exercise “more flexibility” in restricting guns in a second term.

Gun manufacturing is the one private-sector industry “doing fine” on Mr. Obama’s watch. Sturm, Ruger & Co. sold 1 million firearms in the first quarter of 2012 - an amazing 50 percent increase from the first quarter of 2011. The jump was so steep that the company stopped accepting orders from March to May to catch up with demand for its products.

Last month, Smith & Wesson announced a firearm-order backlog of approximately $439 million by the end of April, up 135 percent from the same quarter in 2011. Sales in that period were up 28 percent from 2011 and 14 percent over its own predictions to investors. NSSF estimates the industry is responsible for approximately 180,000 jobs and has an annual impact on the U.S. economy of $28 billion.

Mr. Obama could honestly take credit for this jobs program, economic boost and the reduction in violent crime that has followed the spike in gun ownership on his watch. Instead, he’s silent about his greatest positive accomplishment.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

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